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UK ex-PM Boris Johnson marks birthday with life-size wooden Indian elephants

In an Instagram post, Carrie Johnson posted pictures of the herd being offloaded and then making its home on the grounds of the family’s home in Oxfordshire.
Last Updated : 19 June 2024, 16:44 IST

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London: Britain’s former prime minister Boris Johnson marked his 60th birthday on Wednesday with a special gift from his wife – three life-size wooden elephants in support of an Indian charity initiative.

In an Instagram post, Carrie Johnson posted pictures of the herd being offloaded and then making its home on the grounds of the family’s home in Oxfordshire, watched over by their toddler son Wilfred.

The charity, The Great Elephant Migration, created to foster the co-existence of humans and animals, raises funds through the sale of wooden elephants with a starting price of around USD 8,500 for projects that protect biodiversity.

“A very special 60th birthday present, supporting a wonderful charity @greatelephantmigration,” Carrie Johnson’s Instagram post reads.

According to the charity’s website, the elephants are made from Lantana camara, one of the world’s top invasive weeds.

This fast-growing, noxious shrub has a stranglehold on 300,000 square kilometres of India’s Protected Areas and pushes animals out of their forest homes into urban areas, leading to an increase in human-wildlife conflict.

“The use of lantana to create the elephants helps remove the weed from protected areas, leaving wildlife more space to roam,” the charity explains.

“The beautiful lantana elephants come in four sizes and make themselves at home in all sorts of locations, including gardens, business frontages, estates, and schools," it said.

"Each elephant has been meticulously created to the highest standard possible using dried lantana camara wrapped around a steel rebar frame and coated with Osmo Oil for protection,” it adds.

The Great Elephant Migration is part of the Elephant Family US and UK registered charity, which was set up to harness the power of creativity and storytelling to inspire and enable human populations to share space with wildlife.

Earlier this week, Johnson took to social media in support of some Conservative Party candidates in the upcoming July 4 general election – a move welcomed by former ally Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

However, the prospect of more active support for the election campaign from the Tory veteran who resigned in the wake of the partygate scandal of COVID-19 lockdown law-breaking parties at Downing Street looks unlikely as Johnson plans to be on holiday and return only in time for the polls.

Meanwhile, his party was dealt a further blow as yet another major pre-election survey forecasted heavy losses for the governing Conservatives in favour of the Opposition Labour Party.

In its first multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) model of the 2024 campaign, IPSOS estimated that the Keir Starmer-led party could win 453 seats and the Conservatives 115.

It implies a historic majority of 256 for Labour, plunging the Sunak-led Tories to a record low and losing vote share since the last general election in 2019.

While Labour has consistently enjoyed a 20-point lead in the polls, the IPSOS survey is the highest projection yet of what their majority could be.

The poll also predicts the Liberal Democrats could win 38 seats, the Scottish National Party (SNP) 15, three for the Green Party and three for the far-right Reform UK led by controversial leader Nigel Farage.

"Labour is increasing its 2019 vote share across the country, especially in Scotland and the North East, while the Conservatives are losing votes in all regions – especially in the East and South of England, and across the Midlands,” said Kelly Beaver, chief executive of IPSOS UK and Ireland.

"What is perhaps most concerning for them are signs in the data that they are particularly losing vote share in the areas where they were strongest in 2019," she said.

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Published 19 June 2024, 16:44 IST

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